It is well established that larger social networks predict lower overall mortality in healthy populations and in breast cancer patients, but associations with breast cancer-specific outcomes like recurrence and breast cancer mortality have been mixed.
Now, a new research has revealed that more socially isolated breast cancer survivors are at increased risk of a relapse - thereby increasing their risk of dying - while women with larger social networks experience better outcomes.
Candyce Kroenke from Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California, said, "These findings, from a large pooled cohort of nearly 10,000 women with breast cancer, confirm the generally beneficial influence of women's social ties on breast cancer recurrence and mortality; however, they also point to complexity, that not all social ties are beneficial, and not in all women."
Over a median follow-up of 10.6 years, there were 1448 cancer recurrences and 1521 deaths (990 from breast cancer).
Compared with socially integrated women, socially isolated women had a 40% higher risk of recurrence, a 60% higher risk of dying from breast cancer, and a 70% higher risk of dying from any cause.
The study was published online in the journal CANCER.